Thursday, January 05, 2017

In Solitude Demons Manifest Themselves

Downtown Monroe

When I go alone to pray, sitting quietly by Lake Erie or on the river bank in my back yard, it often happens that a worry, a fear, or anger concerning some situation or person, enters my mind. In extended times of solitude demons show their faces. This is why it is hard for some to enter into aloneness with God. This is why Satan took Jesus into the Judean wilderness to tempt him. This is why Henri Nouwen describes solitude as the furnace of spiritual transformation.

Nouwen writes:

"Even though we may have a deep desire for real solitude, we also experience a certain apprehension as we approach that solitary place and time. As soon as we are alone, without people to talk with, books to read, TV to watch, or phone calls to make, an inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings, and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distractions, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves to us in full force." (Nouwen, The Spiritual Life: Eight Essential Titles by Henri Nouwen, Kindle Locations 640-644)

Spiritual growth requires coming face to face with such things. Living in denial of them won't work. Covering them up with things or busyness won't help. A cancerous tumor won't be healed until identified. Outer distractions will not protect us from inner noise.

Nouwen says, "This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important." (Ib.)

In solitary times with God demons manifest, are confronted, are dealt with and cast out, like dross and chaff are burned away to leave gold and grain. In solitude God restores my soul.